Pedro and Diablo

By Master Storyteller Joe Hayes

From his book "The Day It Snowed Tortillas"

Once in a small mountain village there lived two men who were good friends. The one man's name was Pedro. The other? Well-no one remembered his name. You see, no one ever called him by his name. Instead, they used his nickname.

Back when he was only 7 or 8 years old, everyone had started calling him El Diablo-The Devil-because he was so mischievous.

In school, if there was some prank being played on the teacher, you could bet that El Diablo thought the whole thing up. He would get all the other boys involved, and they'd all get caught and get in trouble. And even when they were grown men and should have known better, it was still happening. El Diablo was leading Pedro astray.

For example, there was the time that El Diablo said to his friend, "Pedro, have you noticed that the apples on Old Man Martinez's tree? They look wonderful. Let's go steal some tonight. There's no moon. No one will see us."

Pedro said, "Oh, no! Old Man Martinez has that big dog. He'll bite my leg off!"

But El Diablo told him, "Don't worry about that dog. He keeps him inside at night. Come on. Let's get some apples." And he talked his friend into it.

That night the two friends got a big gunnysack and crept into Old Man Martinez's yard. They filled that sack with apples, then slipped back out onto the road.

Pedro whispered, "We'll have to find some place to divide these apples up."

Of course El Diablo had a great idea. "I know. We'll go to the camposanto, to the graveyard. Nobody will bother us there!"

So they went down the road until they came to the cemetery. They went in through the gate and walked along the low adobe wall that surrounded the graveyard until they found a dark, shadowy place right next to the wall.

They sat down and dumped out the apples and started to divide them into two piles. As they divided the apples, they whispered, "One for Pedro-one for Diablo . One for Pedro-one for Diablo .," making two piles of apples.

Now it just so happened that a couple of men from the village had been out living it up that night-dancing and celebrating and drinking a little too much. In fact, they had got so drunk they couldn't make it home. They had fallen asleep leaning against that wall right over from where Pedro and Diablo were dividing up the apples.

One man was a big, round, fat fellow. The other was old and thin, with a face that was dry and withered-looking.

A few minutes later, the old man woke up. From the other side of the wall, over in the graveyard, he heard a voice saying, "One for Pedro-one for Diablo . One for Pedro-one for Diablo ."

The poor man's eyes popped out like two hard-boiled eggs. "Aaaiii, Dio Mio!" he gasped, Saint Peter and the Devil are dividing up the dead souls in the camposanto!"

He woke his friend up, and the two men sat there staring, their mouths gaping, too frightened to speak. The voice went on: "One for Pedro-one for Diablo . One for Pedro-one for Diablo ."

Until finally Pedro and El Diablo got to the bottom of the pile of apples. The two men heard Diablo's voice say, "Well, Pedro, that's all of them."

But Pedro happened to notice two more apples, right next to the wall. One was a nice, round, fat apple. The other wasn't so good-it was sort of withered up.

The two men heard Pedro say, "No, Diablo, there are still two more. Don't you see those two right next to the wall-the big fat one and the withered-up one?"

The hair stood up on the back of those men's necks! They thought they were the ones being talked about. They listened for what would be said next, and they heard Diablo say, "Well, Pedro, you can take the fat one. I'll take the withered-up one."

Then they heard Pedro say, "No, Diablo. Neither one is any good. You can take them both!"

When the two men heard that, they thought the Devil would be coming over the wall any minute to get them. They sobered up in a hurry, jumped to their feet and ran home as fast as they could. They slammed the doors and locked them up tight!

And from that day on, the people say, those two men stayed home every night. And they never touched another drop of whiskey for the rest of their lives!

To order "The Day It Snowed Tortillas: Tales from Spanish New Mexico" or other books by master storyteller Joe Hayes, visit Cinco Puntos Press.

Copyright © Joe Hayes
Order Joe Hayes Books at Cinco Puntos Press

Joe Hayes, Storyteller

Joe Hayes, professional storyteller and SFAOL contributor, has performed in hundreds of schools, libraries, museums and parks. He tells folktales from many cultures, and among his favorites are the local cuentos, the Hispanic tales of New Mexico. A highlight of every summer in Santa Fe, for children and adults alike, are his storytelling sessions outside the tepee at the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe.

In 1982, Mariposa Printing and Publishing company in Santa Fe presented 10 of these stories in "The Day It Snowed Tortillas." Now in its ninth printing, the book has become a regional favorite and has brought delight to readers throughout the country.

From the melodic song of "La Hormiguita"to the classic lament of "La Llorana," "The Day It Snowed Tortillas" is a collection that will captivate hearts for years to come. If you enjoy the stories of Joe Hayes on SFAOL, you can order this book or others he has written by visiting Cinco Puntos Press.



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